Myroslava Petrivna Kot
(10.05.1933 — 29.12.2014)
Pedagogue, embroiderer, professor of Drohobych State Pedagogical University named after Ivan Franko (1955), member of the National Union of Folk Art Masters of Ukraine (1990), Merited Master of Folk Arts of Ukraine (1995)
Miroslava Kot was born in 1933 in Warsaw, Poland. Even though her family was of Ukrainian origin, due to historical circumstances as many other Ukrainian peasants at that time they had to leave Ukraine for Poland. Her father, Petro Buga, was originally from the land of Boikivshchina born in Carpathian village Ripchyts. Her mother, Rosalia-Maria Yadchyshyn, was of Ukrainian ancestry coming from the land of Lemkivshchyna, village Semushov. As a child Myroslava was brought up by her parent in the atmosphere of love towards her Motherland and deep respect towards its traditions and crafts. The family returned to Ukraine shortly before the Vistula Operation (planned by Soviet Union forced resettlement of Ukrainian minority from Poland back to Ukraine and vice versa). That is how they found themselves in Drohobych.
Parents’ Wedding Photograph: Mother Maria and Father Petro Buga. Warsaw 1931.
Myroslava Kot had been living in Drohobych since 1943. She graduated from high school and Teachers Training College in 1951 there. Myroslava used to teach mathematics in the nearby rural schools while continued her studies at the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at State Drohobych Pedagogical Institute (1955-1958). Having obtained higher education, she began to teach at the faculty of mathematical analysis since 1962.
First Communion: Myroslavа Buga. Warsaw. June 1941.
Myroslavа Buga. Drohobytch. 1943.
Embroidery had become a large part of her life since childhood. No hardships or dire life circumstances could overcome this life-long interest and involvement. After getting married and giving birth to two sons, she still incessantly continued to seek out folk embroiderers and study the archives of Drohobych Ethnographical Museum. Her husband being a pedagogue himself, notwithstanding all hardships experienced in Stalin’s concentration camps and escaping that death trap managed to retain his love towards the Motherland and fully supported his wife in her pursue.
Mykhajlo and Myroslava Kot with sons by Oleh and Yaroslav. Village of Kulchytsi 1958.
In 1980 Miroslava Kot established a department of applied handicraft and embroidery circle at the Faculty of Social Professions at State Drohobych Pedagogical Institute, where interested students were taught embroidery. She was not only teaching techniques of embroidery, but conveyed to the students her immense love towards Ukraine and its folk art.
The inspiration and success of Myroslava Kot was based on the detailed study of Ukrainian folk art, its historical roots and role, its significance both in spiritual and material national culture.
In 1986 the Board of Ukrainian Artists awarded Myroslava Kot a title of the “National Master of Ukrainian Folk Arts”, soon after she was accepted to the National Union of Folk Art Masters of Ukraine and in March 1995 she was granted an honorary title “Merited Master of Folk Crafts of Ukraine.”
The Diploma of the Marited Master of Folk Arts of Ukraine
Having access to the materials from the archives of Drohobych Ethnographic Museum, she explored topics of great scientific value to the researchers of Ukrainian folk embroidery. A lot of effort was dedicated to exploring and reconstructing the techniques of forgotten cross stitches such as “pletyug” and “plait”. Myroslava Kot not only managed to reconstruct those stitches from rare original samples, but also gave them second life by innovatively applying those stitches while creating complex ornamental patterns. With mathematical precision she approached the study of various combinations of colorful elements in Boiko embroidery and rhythmic repetition of specific motifs. She compiled a dictionary of folk terms, exploring the symbolic connotation of dominant motifs, tracing counterparts of Boiko archaic embroidery to the embroidery of other regions such as Polissja and Lemkivshchyna.
Myroslava Kot involved her university students into that research work. In August 1990 a large exhibition of the student’s work took place at the pavilion “Ukrainian Folk Crafts”, Kiev. It exhibited work of more than 200 participants.
This heighten interest and involvement of students with folk embroidery led to creation of the first Department of Methodology and History of Ukrainian Decorative and Applied Arts as a part of Faculty of Vocational Training. Myroslava Kot was appointed Head of that newly created department. Her dedicated students: Bilas-Berezova Olena, Gevko Oksana, Kuzan Nadija, Lishcynska-Kravec Galyna, Melnyk Galyna and Savka Lesia became her assistants. By that time all of them had obtained the titles of Masters of Folk Arts due to their involvement in the topic. The strategic aim of the department was to provide proper training to the future teaching staff thus they would popularize and promote national culture and arts in schools.
The creative achievements of Miroslava Kot were convincingly demonstrated at her personal exhibition organized by the Museum of Ethnography and Artistic Crafts of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Lviv, 1992. In September 1992 her works were exhibited at famous Boyko festivities in Turka, in June the same year they were demonstrated in Hortytsya during the exhibition dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the Cossack movement. All those exhibitions became prominent events in the Ukrainian art world. With utmost success passed the exhibition “Ukrainian Folk Embroidery” in Ukrainian Museum of Ontario city in Toronto, Canada, 1994, at Cultural center at St. Volodymyr and Olha in Chicago, USA, in Private gallery in New York in May 1994, at ECO Gallery in Detroit USA, October 1995. During those shows there were presented more than 100 exhibits demonstrating the samples of embroidery all over Ukraine.
Of particular importance for the research of the folk crafts was the cooperation with local Drohobych Ethnographic Museum. It archives provided rare samples of embroidery which ceased to be used nowadays and were mostly forgotten. This collaboration resulted into a large regional embroidery exhibition dedicated to the 900th anniversary of Drohobych city. The show attracted huge public interest and received very positive reviews.
In 1999 Myroslava Kot published her first book “Embroidery of Drohobychyna. Tradition and Modernity “. The book contains not only the original embroidery patterns, but also an insight from her research of the history, spiritual and artistic culture of Drohobych.
In 2006 Myroslava Kot was awarded Anatoliy Vakhnyanyn Prize in the nomination “Folk Art” for the ethnographic collection of ancient Boiko clothes ornaments.
In 2007 Myroslava published her second book-album “Ukrainian embroidered shirt: tradition and modernity” in Drohobych. In 2010 the art album was issued under the title “Embroidery of Miroslava Kot ” which contained the reproductions of the best art works of the artist that were not included in the previous albums.
Nowadays, there is a permanent exhibition of Myroslava Kot in the exhibition hall of the local Museum “Drohobychyna”. This was the highest recognition of numerous years of fruitful pedagogical, artistic and creative work from the site of local community.
The Exhibition in the Museum “Drohobychyna”, 2012
Her artistic works are in many museums and private collections in Ukraine, USA and Canada. Miroslava Kot loved to emphasize that “embroidery is at the same time mathematics and indescribable beauty of life.” She managed to demonstrate to the world on the professional level the accomplishments of Ukrainian people in the art of embroidery.
There were organized more than 50 exhibition during her lifetime. Along her works Myroslava also presented and promoted works of her students. She brought up 19 artists, 15 of them became the members of the National Union of Ukrainian Folk Arts.
Miroslava Kot gladly collaborated with teachers, students, all those who were interested in Ukrainian embroidery. Her home became the house-museum where everybody could receive the advice, get acquainted with embroidery. She conducted a lifelong workshop sharing her passion and interest with others. She created shirts is which the ancient traditions and technique of embroidery had found a new life in modern times. She managed to preserve the most significant common traditional features as well as uniqueness of embroidery – an important component of Ukrainian national culture.
Active and multifaceted research and creative activity of Miroslava Kot caused surprise, admiration, respect and pride. Her life was a permanent quest of hard work in promoting and developing of the artistic treasure of the Ukrainian people – embroidery.